The 124 members of Glen Rose High School’s senior class of 2020 may be on artificial turf when they graduate tonight, but their diplomas will be 100 percent real.

School officials had been grappling with the idea of having an in-person ceremony — as a opposed to an online event — because of concerns over the COVID-19 threat that had caused schools to be closed since spring break.

But earlier this month, GRHS announced that the ceremony will be held at Tiger Stadium, starting at 8:15 p.m. tonight (Friday, May 22), with safety guidelines in place. The gates at Tiger Stadium will open to the public at 7:15.

Normally, each year’s graduation ceremony is held inside the GRHS auditorium, which is across the street on Stadium Drive, next to the high school.

GRHS Principal Kelly Shackelford had told the Glen Rose Reporter previously that the students were surveyed by email “to find out what they wanted to do and whether they wanted to have it virtually and they overwhelmingly said they wanted to have an in-person ceremony. We’re just making the best of a not-so-good situation.”

Another change this year is that instead of GRISD Board of Trustees and Superintendent Wayne Rotan handing the graduates their diplomas, officials decided to have parents or a designated family member (who are given a special red ticket) be given the honor of presenting the diploma to their child or loved one.

There is a slight chance of rain for Friday night. If the ceremony has to be postponed because of bad weather, it would likely be rescheduled for the following morning, Saturday May 23 (no time set).

Each ticket that was sold for Friday’s ceremony has a designated gate (east or west side) noted on it for entrance to the stadium.

A stage will be set up on the field itself, and two large (12 feet by 24 feet) video screens will be set up for the spectators to view the on-stage ceremony while they sit in the stands.

Parking and entrance to the west side stands will be directly behind those stands, behind Tiger Arena next door, and behind the baseball and softball field parking areas.

The parking and entrance to the east side of the stands will utilize the auditorium parking lot, teacher parking lot and the parking lot across from the Red Gym.

GRISD administrators and Sheriff’s Department deputies will be available at the entrances and exits to give guidance and directions for those arriving.

School officials noted that guests attending will be asked to maintain at least six feet of social distancing, and to not sit in restricted areas.

Guests will be seated in the stadium’s stands with one row separating them, as well as having non-household members sitting at least six feet apart. Household units attending as a group may sit together, however, without six feet of spacing.